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UMGC Global Media Center Maryland High Schoolers Tackle Themes that Resonate at Juried Art Show

Alex Kasten
By Alex Kasten

A diversity of artistic expression, perspective, and talent from Maryland high school students is in the spotlight at the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) Arts Program Gallery.

The Maryland High School Juried Art Exhibition features works by 51 students. D.C.-based artist Cheryl Edwards, who has exhibited her works nationally and internationally, joined Julie B. Westendorff, executive director of the Allegany Arts Council, as guest jurors for the show. In addition to choosing the pieces in the exhibit from among 300 entries, they selected three cash-prize winners and three honorable mentions. 

President’s Award winner Helen McConville with her tapestry, Hunt of Artemis.

“The exhibition offers UMGC and the Arts Program another way to support the arts and the instruction of dedicated teachers who are instrumental in guiding the next generation of creative individuals,” said Eric Key, director of the UMGC Arts Program. The selected artworks will be on display until April 2.

Each painting, drawing, photograph, and sculpture in the exhibit offers a glimpse into the emotional voice and world view of their talented creators.

First-place President’s Award winner Helen McConville fell in love with art at an early age. She grew up in a family of artists and watched her parents create and sell their own work, teach, and apply for residencies. From them, she learned about process and patience, both of which she uses to improve her skills.

Her tapestry Hunt of Artemis, assembled from fabric, thread, and embroidery floss, was inspired by her experiences growing up female and the depiction of the female body in historical portraiture. McConville employs vibrant colors—notably red in the dress and flower in her textile—to connect the idea of femininity and nature. Her use of perspective, shadowing, and color recreates the brush strokes of a painting, offering a visual experience that breaks traditional boundaries of the quilted medium.

Invasive Thoughts by Cayla Otto, colored pencil on paper, 20 x 16 inches, 2021.

McConville is a senior at the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Baltimore. She plans to major in art or physics at college.

As far back as kindergarten, second-place Director’s Award winner Cayla Otto recognized her talent for art. As she got older, she discovered the Legend of Zelda book series and started envisioning characters and situations she wanted to bring to life. Her winning piece, Invasive Thoughts, is a portrait using colored pencil on paper. It seeks to capture the intrinsic beauty of her thoughts, as well how constricting and overwhelming they can become. It is the first entry in a portfolio she has been developing over the past year and a half to examine how anxiety affects her.  

Otto, a senior at Oakdale High School in Ijamsville, plans to pursue environmental studies at a four-year university while continuing her focus on art as an avenue for spreading the word about environmentalism.

James Breden’s third-place Curator’s Award-winning work invites viewers into the discordant city sounds and sights that inspire him. Within the pen-on-paper work, Downtown Funk, a corner image of a face seems desperate to escape the din. James’ intricate drawing literally bursts at the edges. 

Downtown Funk by Jason Breden, micron pen on paper, 11 x 14 inches, 2022.

Breden is a junior at Century High School in Sykesville. He plans to explore both art and science at college.

In addition to the top three awards, honorable mentions went to Abiola Adelye of Thomas S. Wootton High School for Monarch Somnium, an acrylic on canvas; Conner Lash of Annapolis High School for Self-Portrait, featuring graphite on paper; and Emily Slade of Towson High School for Cardboring Beige, a three-dimensional sculpture constructed in cardboard.

The UMGC Arts Program launched the annual juried exhibition in 2018 to engage and showcase high-school-aged artists. The first, second and third-place winners also received cash prizes of $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000, respectively.